MANDARIN ORIENTAL IS A BRAND ASSOCIATED WITH LUXURY AND THE CREATION OF UNIQUE EXPERIENCES AND THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL MARRAKECH, NESTLED WITHIN 20 HECTARES OF MANICURED GARDENS IS A RESORT HOTEL WITH A DIFFERENCE. SEAMLESSLY COMBINING BERBER AND ORIENTAL INFLUENCES, THE EXPANSIVE PROPERTY HAS BEEN DESIGNED WITH PRIVACY AND RELAXATION IN MIND. FACT’S DAVID TAPLEY EXPLORES…
Initial impressions are key. Passing through the old city area and past palace gardens filled with orange trees, we arrive at the sweeping driveway leading up to the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech just 15 minutes after leaving the airport. The hotel entrance is marked by a large pool of water, in the middle of which stands a lone gracious tree. This theme of water continues into the monochromatic lobby, where striking black and white portraits of Berber women stare down from above, while curtains billow and the scent of oud makes for a sensuous first impression.
This being Mandarin Oriental, there is no wait to check-in. Instead we’re invited out onto the terrace to sip on traditional Moroccan mint tea which is poured with such showmanship, as the check-in formalities are completed. Once refreshed we board a buggy to transport us to our Mandarin Oriental Pool Villa. Despite seeing images of the property online before visiting, nothing could’ve prepared us for one of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech’s 54 private villas. For what lies behind a pair of large double doors, leaves us holding our breath as we await the big reveal.
Behind the intricately carved doors lies the Mandarin Pool Villa, an easy contender for the most luxurious of hotel villas. Fully enclosed by a flower strewn stone wall that encompasses the space for total privacy, we enter into a courtyard that surrounds a private pool complete with jacuzzi. Resulting in an outside space that is both functional and relaxing. Aside from the plethora of seating options (dining table, daybeds and cushioned majlis) guests will discover a small garden dotted with fruit trees that contains an outdoor shower, alongside a fireplace and charming outside kitchen where you can prepare your own Moroccan mint tea, or have the culinary team prepare something for you.
The villa takes on a horseshoe shape that loops around the private pool and with much of the structure constructed from glass; the space is flooded in natural light. Designed as mini riads, at the back lies the bedroom where the exceptionally comfortable king bed sits upon a raised podium and the entire room can be controlled at the touch of a button – lights, curtains and even a television that pops out from the footboard of the bed!
A marble-clad bathroom helps to promote a sense of serenity and features a walk-in dressing room, double vanities, a freestanding tub and your very own steam room. Embracing local culture is part of the Mandarin Oriental concept and we truly appreciated the attention to detail, with black soap, local Nectarome products and scouring mitts provided in the steam room, for guests to partake in their own private hammam. Soft furnishings abound in the living area, home to a mini bar, writing desk and Apple television. The open plan nature of the villa (which can be separated via doors) adds appeal and a sense of freedom to the beautifully decorated space which takes on a romantic feel once the evening turn down service is complete and the villa is lit by candlelight.
Escape and relaxation form the core of the Mandarin Oriental experience and although the villas all feature private swimming pools, the resort has an impressive communal pool set against the external facade of the hotel building and flanked with water filled lagoons. Beneath the trees guests are invited to fine seclusion in hammocks or daybeds or to indulge in a cocktail or light snack at the Pool Garden. The ethos behind the Mandarin Oriental brand is the belief that their properties are more than just hotels. Each stay offers an experience where guests are invited to embrace the local culture and become immersed in the unique qualities of each destination.
The kids’ club is a perfect example, representing a technology free zone (you won’t find movies or video games present) where children are instead taught Berber techniques for carpet weaving, jewellery making, and Moroccan cookery lessons, alongside the likes of yoga and creative play. The kids’ club is nestled deep within the grounds of the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, surrounded by olive trees and the on site farm. From which many of the organic ingredients used in the preparation of dishes at traditional Moroccan restaurant Mes’Lalla derive from.
Presenting signature treatments for which the Mandarin Oriental brand is renowned in addition to Moroccan specialties such as hammam, the spa at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech spans an impressive 1,800sqm. Designed by French duo Gilles & Boissier in Andalusian style, the terracotta archways and high ceilings of the spa are an Instagrammer’s dream and with a indoor pool, hammam and six spa suites (including one for couples). Each of the spa suites is named after one of the elements and the names are etched into the walls using traditional Berber fonts.
The spacious spa suites include heated massage beds and a small garden for post-treatment relaxation. The spa team actively encourages visitors to disconnect from technology and embrace mindfulness via the use of adult colouring books. A 70sqm indoor pool, yoga studio and state of the art gymnasium can also be found to the rear of the spa. Featuring the latest technology, business travellers in particular will appreciate the option of connecting their devices to the cardiovascular equipment, meaning that they never miss an email, even when working out.
The dining options at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech are particularly strong, sitting well within the luxury confines of the property. Mes’Lalla represents an alternative take on the all day dining with its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The pleasant dining room decked out in Berber textiles is surpassed by the outside terrace overlooking the water gardens and swimming pool. This is where Executive Chef Salim Ait Ezzine utilises seasonal produce grown at the on site farm to bring life to his menu of Mediterranean and Moroccan classics, via exquisite plating and bold flavours. Situated in the West Wing, Ling Ling is a nightlife concept from the Hakkasan group offering Cantonese-inspired small plates in combination with the finest mixology.
The trendy environment promotes a party atmosphere that is creating quite a stir in the Moroccan capital. Celebrating the beauty of Moroccan Berber heritage, the Mandari Oriental Marrakech is a remarkable property ideal for those is search of exquisite luxury and seclusion while still being close to the city. Marking the Mandarin Oriental group’s debut on the African continent, this specific property has set the bar particularly high as a resort at the forefront of Morocco’s luxury market. Nothing is too much for the Mandarin Oriental team. Want to dine at Ling Ling but don’t want to leave the villa? Fear not, for the chef will come to you! Guests’ needs are constantly anticipated and then exceeded. This is the place to really get away from it all.
Marrakech: Top 5
Jemaa El-Fnaa: The heart and soul of old Marrakech. A bustling place of snake charmers, local eateries and a great spot for people watching after a day of exploration. Visit around sunset and watch the transformation from day to night as food vendors line the square, turning Jemaa El-Fnaa into a street food extravaganza.
Jardin Majorelle: A tranquil haven, these gardens owned by the Yves Saint Laurent estate are home to an informative Berber museum alongside a number of botanical species. Take a walk past the vibrant blue buildings. The Medina: Shop until you drop in the warren of alleyways that make up the Medina in Marrakech’s old town. Haggle for handicrafts, spices, leather and clothes. We guarantee you’ll get lost BUT it’s all part of the fun.
Ourika Valley: Escape the city for half a day and visit Ourika in the Atlas Mountains. Ascend the mountainside for a spectacular view of seven waterfalls cascading downwards, or stay riverside and dine on aromatic slow-cooked tagine while your feet dangle in the cool mountain waters.
Hammam: Experience the Moroccan hammam for the ultimate in relaxation. A communal bathhouse where you can expect to be slathered in black soup before being scrubbed and exfoliated. Ultimately, leaving your skin looking radiant
GO: CALL +212 5242 98888 OR VISIT WWW.MANDARINORIENTAL.COM FOR RESERVATIONS AND MORE INFORMATION